How To Get The Most From The GROW Coaching Model

Mark Lewis
August 10, 2021
min read
Share this post

As a HR manager or leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to develop and support the talent within your organisation. A key way to achieve this is through coaching, which can help employees unlock their potential and achieve their goals.

The GROW coaching model is a powerful tool that can be particularly useful for modern managers. By focusing on Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward, and Follow-up, the GROW model can help your team members identify their goals, understand their current reality, explore their options, and develop an actionable plan to achieve their objectives.

In this article, we will introduce the GROW model for coaching, its benefits, and provide a GROW model template that can be used in coaching sessions. We will also provide examples of GROW model coaching questions that can help coaches to guide their clients towards their goals and a GROW coaching template you can share with your managers to give them somewhere to start. It's perfect for HR Managers to share with their teams for one-on-one check-ins.

Before your team use the GROW model: Making the Switch from Manager to Coach

Being able to effectively coach your team members can be a profoundly rewarding experience. Helping people unlock what is already inside them to address a problem they’re facing is so much more impactful than simply telling them what you would do.

And in most cases, they are more likely to be successful with a plan of action they come up with vs a plan suggested by a manager. The level of buy-in to the action required is significantly increased when an individual has been empowered in the design stage too.

But the truth is, conducting a coaching style conversation doesn’t come naturally to most people, especially if you’ve been a manager for years and felt an expectation to have the answers to all your teams problems!

How is a coaching leadership style different to other styles?

Over time leaders will start to notice that their leadership style is changing.  A coaching leadership style focuses on developing individuals' skills and abilities to help them achieve their goals. It differs from other leadership styles in several ways:

  • Focus on development:
    Coaching leadership emphasises the development of individual team members, rather than just achieving the team's goals. The coach provides feedback, guidance, and support to help team members grow and reach their full potential.
  • Two-way communication:
    Coaching leadership involves open and honest communication between the leader and team members. The coach actively listens and encourages team members to express their opinions, ideas, and concerns.
  • Collaborative problem-solving:
    In coaching leadership, the coach works collaboratively with team members to solve problems and make decisions. The coach does not make decisions on behalf of the team, but instead facilitates the decision-making process.
  • Empowering team members:
    Coaching leadership empowers team members to take ownership of their work and decision-making processes. The coach provides guidance and support but allows team members to take responsibility for their work and development.
  • Continuous learning:
    Coaching leadership emphasises continuous learning and improvement. The coach encourages team members to seek out new challenges, take risks, and learn from their experiences.

Overall, coaching leadership focuses on empowering and developing team members to reach their full potential and achieve both personal and organisational goals.

What is the grow coaching model ?

The GROW coaching model (or GROWF as we like to call it) is particularly suited to modern managers because it assumes the manager is not an expert in the individual’s problem or situation. The GROW coaching model is a widely used framework for coaching and mentoring. It was developed by Sir John Whitmore, a British coach, and author, in the 1980s. The model provides a structure for coaching conversations that can help individuals and teams set and achieve goals, identify obstacles, and develop plans for personal and professional growth.

GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Way Forward, and it provides a structured framework for coaches to guide their clients towards their goals. The GROW model is based on the principle that individuals are capable of finding their own solutions and that the coach's role is to facilitate the process of self-discovery. Crewmojo have added F for follow-up to prompt managers to set a joint plan on how they can offer continuing support to their team members.

The GROW model for coaching is widely used because it is simple, easy to remember, and effective. It can be used in a wide range of coaching contexts, including goal-setting, conflict resolution and development planning. The GROW model is a flexible and adaptable framework that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual or team. Keep reading and download our handy GROW template to get your team started.

What are the benefits of the GROW Model for coaching?

The GROW model for coaching has many benefits for both managers and their team members. Some of the benefits include:

  • Clarity: The GROW model helps team members to clarify their goals and develop a clear action plan for achieving them.
  • Self-awareness: The GROW model helps team members to identify and develop strategies for leveraging their strengths and improving their weaknesses.
  • Accountability: The GROW model helps team members to commit to specific actions and be accountable for their progress towards their goals.
  • Empowerment: The GROW model empowers team members to find their own solutions and take ownership of their development.

The GROW coaching model is versatile and can help shape your conversation in many situations - whether you're helping your team member overcome a problem, achieve a life long goal, build a career trajectory, or learn a new skill, the GROW coaching model is a fundamental coaching tool.

What does the GROW Model stand for?

Let's break down the model and how it can work for you.

GROW is an acronym that stands for:

  • Goal: Where you want to be?
  • Reality: Where you are now?
  • Options: What options do you have to reach your goal?
  • Way forward: How will you get there?

We add in an F.

  • Follow-up: How will you maintain your momentum?

Here's a graphic to share with your teams.

Screenshot our GROW infographic and download our GROW model template

Examples of when you can use the GROW model

Here are some GROW model coaching examples that illustrate when you can use the GROW model, including a few unexpected situations.

Example 1: Goals check-in

Goal: Increase sales revenue by 20% in the next six months.

Reality: The team member is currently experiencing a decline in sales due to increased competition and changing consumer preferences.

Options: The team member could develop a new marketing campaign, expand their product line, or offer promotions to attract new customers.

Way Forward: The team member will implement a new marketing campaign that targets their ideal customer, and offer a discount to new customers who make a purchase.

Follow-up: The team member will design a tracking report and meet back with you to review their progress.

Example 2: Personal Development Challenge

Goal: Improve time management skills and reduce stress levels.

Reality: The team member is struggling to balance their work and personal life, and is feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Options: The team member could prioritize their tasks, delegate responsibilities, and set boundaries to manage their time more effectively.

Way- Forward: The team member will prioritize their tasks by creating a to-do list and setting realistic deadlines, delegate responsibilities to their team members, and set boundaries by turning off their phone and email during personal time.

Follow-Up: The manager and team member agree to a fortnightly coffee meeting to discuss challenges along the way. The manager plans to re-use the GROW model to coach the team member through different challenges as they arise.

Example 3: Employee skill development

A manager may use the GROW model to help an employee develop new skills or knowledge to enhance their performance. For example, if an employee wants to learn a new software program to improve their productivity, the manager can use the GROW model to guide the employee through the process of setting a goal, assessing their current reality, exploring options for learning, and committing to a plan of action.

Example 4: Conflict resolution:

A manager may use the GROW model to help employees resolve conflicts or improve their working relationships. This might be an unexpected way to use this model. Keep in mind that the objective is to help our team members come up with solutions to their challenges.

For example, if two employees are having difficulty communicating effectively, the manager can use the GROW model to help them set a goal of improving their communication, explore their current reality by identifying the specific issues causing the conflict, explore options for resolving the conflict, and commit to a plan of action to improve their working relationship.

Example 5: Career development

A manager may use the GROW model to help an employee plan and achieve their career goals. For example, if an employee wants to move into a leadership role within the company, the manager can use the GROW model to help them set a goal of achieving this promotion, assess their current reality by identifying any skills or experience gaps, explore options for acquiring the necessary skills or experience, and commit to a plan of action to achieve their career goal.

Improve your one-on-one coaching skills with our GROW coaching template

How it works & example GROW questions

GROW: Step 1 - Establish the Goal

Help your team member establish specifically what they would like to achieve. Using a goal framework will ensure a properly defined, high impact goal - whether you use an OKR approach or SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) goals - the important point is to capture clarity over what success looks like.

Questions you might ask:

  • What would success look like?
  • How will you know you have achieved your goal?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • When do you want to achieve it by?
  • Does this goal contribute to your career plan / team objectives / company direction?

Example: I’d like to run and finish the Sydney half-marathon in under 100 minutes.

GROW: Step 2 - Establish the Current Reality

After establishing the endgame, now is the time to encourage self-reflection to understand the starting point. A good manager will coach their team member to speak through their reality, as they go listening carefully for any assumptions and digging deeper to collectively agree if these assumptions are a perception or reality.

At this stage of the GROW coaching model it’s important to identify positives (no matter how small) in the current situation and avoid searching for problems.

Questions you might ask:

  • Have you tried this before?
  • What worked, what didn’t work?
  • Is anyone else involved? What roles do they play?
  • What is happening now?
  • What are your biggest fears in tackling this goal?
  • Describe the obstacles you might encounter?

Example: I’ve done a half-marathon before, but I haven’t run for quite some time. To be successful I’ll need to be consistent with training runs each week, but with work and family commitments I think it’s going to be hard to get time.

DOWNLOAD NOW: GROW Coaching Model Template

GROW: Step 3 - Exploring Options

Whilst it’s very tempting to skip this stage of the GROW coaching model and race to solution mode, take your time to go deeper and wider beyond than the first idea. Encourage creative thinking through brainstorming, probing and curious questions - this is truly where the golden nuggets can be found..

Questions you might ask:

  • If you couldn’t do your first option, what else might you try?
  • Who will be your biggest supporters? How can they support you?
  • What advice would you offer to someone else tackling this issue?
  • Is there anything you can stop doing to free up time?
  • Can you combine this goal with something else you are working towards?
  • Can I be your accountability partner?

GROW: Step 4 - The Way Forward

Using all the insights from the previous stages of the GROW coaching model you can now come up with an action plan. Aim to identify the very next step and agree a plan that your team member feels excited about, and committed to making happen.

Questions you might ask:

  • What would your very next step look like?
  • Can you identify key milestones?
  • List the activities you will need to complete?
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • What action will you take if you hit an obstacle?
  • How often should we review progress?

Example: My son is competing in a cross-country race in 2 months. I will join him on training runs and once completed he can join me on my shorter training runs. I’ll share my goal with my family and establish a routine for the longer runs where I get up earlier in the morning. I can go to bed earlier by watching less Netflix in the evening. I’ll work on increasing my distance first and then I’ll focus on increasing my pace per km to hit my 100 min goal.

GROW: Step 5 - Follow-up

Here’s the unofficial bit that you won’t find anywhere else and we believe it’s a critical component to making the GROW coaching model even more successful! Making the acronym GROWF, where as a coach you schedule a series of Follow-ups to check in with your team member between now and when their goal should be achieved.

These check-ins are an opportunity to ask if progress is on track and if any blockers are holding them back. Having someone check-in on a regular basis keeps the motivation going over extended periods of time.

How can managers improve their skills as a GROW coach?

Managers can improve their skills as a GROW coach by taking the following steps:

  • Learn the principles of GROW coaching:
    The first step is to learn about the GROW coaching model and its principles. Managers can take a course, attend a workshop or read books to understand the model. We've listed a few handy books below.
  • Practice coaching:
    Practice makes perfect, and managers can improve their skills by practicing GROW coaching with their team members. Managers should set up regular coaching sessions and focus on asking open-ended questions, listening actively and providing feedback.
  • Get feedback:
    Managers should seek feedback from their team members on their coaching skills. Feedback can help managers identify areas they need to improve and build on their strengths.
  • Work with a coach:
    Managers can work with a coach who is experienced in GROW coaching to help them improve their skills. A coach can provide feedback, guidance, and support to help managers become more effective coaches.
  • Reflect on their coaching sessions:
    After each coaching session, managers should take some time to reflect on how it went. Reflection can help managers identify what worked well and what needs improvement.
  • Integrate coaching into their leadership style:
    Managers should integrate coaching into their leadership style. They should make coaching a regular part of their interactions with team members, and seek opportunities to use coaching to help team members develop and achieve their goals.

By taking these steps, managers can improve their skills as a GROW coach and help their team members develop and achieve their goals.

Extra resources to support your growth as a coach

There are many books available on the GROW model, but here are some top-selling ones:

  • "Coaching for Performance: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership" by Sir John Whitmore - This book is a classic on coaching and uses the GROW model as a foundation for coaching.
  • "The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever" by Michael Bungay Stanier - This book provides practical guidance on how to apply the GROW model in coaching and leadership.

How can HR teams build on the GROW model to create a coaching culture?

Implementing the GROW coaching model can help create a coaching culture within an organisation, and the HR team can take the lead in embedding this model. Here are some steps that an HR team can take to introduce the GROW coaching model and create a coaching culture in their organisation:

  • Provide training:
    Provide training on the GROW coaching model to managers and other leaders in the organisation. This training can be conducted in-house or outsourced to a professional coach or training provider. The training should cover the four stages of the GROW model, as well as best practices for coaching conversations.
  • Set expectations:
    Set expectations for coaching conversations and establish a framework for when coaching is appropriate. Make it clear to managers and employees that coaching conversations are not about giving advice, but rather about helping employees identify their own solutions.
  • Provide resources:
    Provide resources to support the coaching process, such as coaching templates, guidelines for how to conduct coaching conversations, and tips for providing effective feedback.
  • Recognition:
    Encourage a coaching culture by promoting coaching as a leadership style and recognizing and rewarding managers who effectively use coaching in their management practices.
  • Measure success:
    Measure the success of the coaching program by tracking progress against key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs could include increased employee engagement, retention, and productivity.
  • Continuous improvement:
    Continuously evaluate and improve the coaching program based on feedback from employees, managers, and coaches. This will help ensure that the program remains relevant and effective over time.

We’ve done the work for you:  

DOWNLOAD NOW: GROW Coaching Model Template

By following these steps, an HR team can successfully embed the GROW coaching model and create a coaching culture within their organisation. This can lead to increased employee engagement, retention, and productivity, as well as better performance and career development for employees.

Share this post

All the EX insights in one podcast

Join Crewmojo's CEO Mark Lewis as he talks with HR leaders on how they tune employee experience to drive amazing outcomes their organisations

More goodies right here...

Performance templates

Download templates from our library of performance reviews, 1-on-1 agendas, engagement surveys, and more.

Learn more about

Bring 1-on-1s into the heart of your team's performance process.

See how we approach goals

Get your goals out of your business plan and make them a real focus.